22 AUGUST 365 Days with Calvin

Knowing Godly Sorrow

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

suggested further reading: Psalm 51

To understand what is meant by godly sorrow, we must observe that godly sorrow is contrasted here with sorrow of the world. There is also a contrast between two kinds of joy. The joy of the world is when men foolishly and without the fear of the Lord exult in vanity, that is, with the world. Intoxicated with a transient happiness, they look no higher than the earth. True joy is when men place all their happiness in God and take satisfaction in his grace. They show this joy in contempt of the world, regarding earthly prosperity as if it is of no use to them and being joyful in the midst of adversity.

So, the sorrow of the world is when men despair as a consequence of earthly afflictions and are overwhelmed with grief. Godly sorrow has an eye to God; those who have it reckon it misery to have lost the favor of God. Impressed with the fear of God’s judgment, they mourn over their sins.

Paul says godly sorrow is the cause and origin of repentance. It is to be carefully observed, for unless the sinner is dissatisfied with himself, detests his manner of life, and is thoroughly grieved by an apprehension of sin, he will never betake himself to the Lord. On the other hand, it is impossible for a person to experience sorrow of this kind without giving birth to a new heart.

Hence repentance arises in grief, for the reason that I have mentioned. No one can return to the right way unless he hates sin. Where there is hatred of sin, there is grief and dissatisfaction with self.

for meditation: There are many sorrows in this world, and none of them are pleasant. Godly sorrow is not pleasant, either, and thus it is avoided by most. But it is a sorrow that leads to the great joy of salvation. It is not to be regretted, for it leads to repentance and life. Have you experienced godly sorrow? Think of the joy that it has brought about.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 253). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

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